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Ladies and gentlemen, the day has finally arrived... the day one of the biggest names in rock and roll returns to the stage for a onetime event. Today is the day of the Led Zeppelin reunion show at the 02 arena in London for a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records. Although rumors have been flying left and right that this is really the first of a full fledged reunion tour for Zeppelin, including slips that the Cult may be their opening band and an anonymous tip about Zeppelin headlining Bonnaroo next year, nothing has been confirmed by the band, past this show. All us "Zeppelin-heads" though are hoping and praying that the rumors are true though at least to get a chance to glimpse the band performing their music the way they intended... live... one last time. Whether the world tour materializes or not, this concert event, assuming the band is in good form, which rehearsals and sound checks seem to indicate that they are, will surely be a great rock and roll moment.
With a band like Led Zeppelin, that has so many instantly recognized classics, you know there are going to be certain songs in the set list like "Black Dog", "Rock and Roll", "Dazed and Confused", "No Quarter", "Kashmir" and of course "Stairway to Heaven". Those are all incredible songs, but as with any huge Zeppelin fan, some of my favorite songs are the ones that were not major hits, so I hope that for this concert they don't purely stick to the expected repertoire. Recent press interviews seem to indicate that they won't. Jimmy Page stated that they've been rehearsing a very "intense" number, which should make the show, that Led Zeppelin never played live before. Sounds pretty cool to me.
The recent sound check set list, which consisted of "Good Times, Bad Times", "Ramble On", "In My Time of Dying", "No Quarter" and "Nobody's Fault But Mine", seems like a good indication of a couple of songs the band has been preparing for the show. Personally though, I know there are more than a few songs I'd love to see Zeppelin perform again and thought on this "Led Zeppelin Day," I would compile a list of 9 songs beyond the obvious choices, one from every studio release (including Coda), that I would like to hear performed live.
1: "Your Time is Gonna Come" from Led Zeppelin
This soaring arena rock blues is one of my all time favorite Zeppelin songs. It seems to capture their blues roots with touches of folk right along with their massive grandeur. With Plant's soulful vocal work over top of the more subtle backing and the massive sing along choruses, this track just sounds larger than life from beginning to end, a feel that has been a trademark of the band from the very beginning. I don't know how likely it is this one will appear in the set as there is quite some range in the vocal work that Plant might not be able to reach anymore, plus I don't think it was that common in the set lists during their heyday... although Page did perform it with the Black Crowes. Still, I think it'd be an incredible addition to the set, especially if they push it towards the bluesy or folksy end of the spectrum.
2: "Thank You" from Led Zeppelin II
One of the first ballad-esque songs that the band wrote, I like this song because it does seem to hint at things to come, like "The Rain Song" and even "Stairway to Heaven". Although it's a pretty pulled back track, there is something very hard rock about this track, making it one of the first "power ballads" if you want to use that terms. It was a bit of a toss up between this track and "Ramble On" as to what to pick because I'm fond of both, but I eventually decided on this one because "Ramble On" seemed more like the obvious choice, and has already appeared in the sound check. Either would be great in my mind, but hearing this one slightly more unexpected and more of a treat.
3: "Celebration Day" from Led Zeppelin III
Although the riff of this song can seem excruciatingly complex on first listen with it's sliding and rapidly strummed chords, the melody is actually quite strong and not as complex as it may appear. This contrast between complexity and the simplicity of it's rolling, swaggering beat is one reason I like this song so much, that and the fact that it's high energy makes it fun to listen to. The live version of this track, although the sound isn't great, does demonstrate that the band could really open up on this one back in the day, taking it from crafted layers towards more trashy grit with improvised parts and licks. I think it'd be a thrill to see them take this one on again as although the studio version is great, I actually prefer the distilled live take's rough edged riffs and think seeing how they interpret it after all these years would be incredible. The chance of that happening though might be rare as in terms of performing songs, this one may be one of the harder ones to lock in and if it doesn't do just that, lock in, it will definitely fall short.
4: "When the Levee Breaks" from Untitled aka Led Zeppelin IV aka The Zoso Album
Ok, I'll admit that this may seem like an obvious choice as this track is incredible and one of their best of all time in many people's opinions, including mine, but it's a song I think would sound so amazing live, that I can't help by hope they perform it. With it's visceral feel, massive drums, mystic flavored guitars, and Plant's swaying vocals on imagery laced lyrics, this song is about as epic as they get. I actually think the chances of the band pulling this one out are pretty high because it's such a fan favorite, but then again it depends what other songs from this album they're playing. We know "Stairway to Heaven" will be in the set, and probably either "Rock and Roll" or "Black Dog" or both... is there room for a 4th song from that album if they want to cover as much of the band's catalog as they can? We'll see...
5: "The Rain Song" from Houses of the Holy
One of Zeppelin's only true ballads, the opening chords of this one are supposedly a tribute to a George Harrison song as it was Harrison's statement that he liked the band but thought they should do an actual ballad or two to expand their sound (or something to that effect). Personally I think this is just an excellent composition musically and the song is stunningly beautiful, especially done stripped down live. I actually think the possibility of them performing this one are the highest of any of these nine, because this song is such a classic... and it's one the should be able to pull off in stellar form.
6: "Sick Again" from Physical Graffiti
I think this album might just barely edge out the rest as my favorite Zeppelin album, although it's extremely close, and this song is part of why. A hard hitting rocker with a killer, driving riff, that still stays true to the roots of rock and roll by just barely hinting and a bluesy swagger, this song is one of my favorites of the band's heavy numbers. When it comes to bombastic music, this is a great example as it's just huge from start to finish with plenty of great interplay between Page and Plant as is expected. Live versions of this one seems even more massive and biting than the studio take, which is pretty huge, making this one a definite on my wish list.
7: "Hots On for Nowhere" from Presence
Although this album is often considered the weakest of the Zeppelin catalog, it's songs are not all that bad really with a few standouts as I think this song is one of them. Sure, if I was going to pick a live track from this album to expect I would probably lean towards either "Nobody's Fault But Mine" or the epic "Achilles Last Stand", but I can't help thinking how fun it would be to hear them rip out this cocky number on stage. It's a pretty catchy song with it's sing along "la la la" choruses, and features some great funky guitar work with tons of attitude. What's the possibility of that actually happening? Probably next to nil... but we can hope.
8: "In the Evening" from In Through the Out Door
Some people might tend towards "Fool in the Rain" or "All of My Love" as a track to hope for from this album, but I actually really like this one. It may be out of character to hear Page playing a whammy bar equipped strat, but there's something very primal about this song from the opening noisy parts through it's grinding riff that I like. I think with Plant's voice actually sounding more bluesy over the years, that he should be able to belt this one out with power. Again, I think the actual possibility of them pulling out this number might be quite low, but if they do it could be an incredible moment as live versions from the end of the band's career seem to show this one as being a bombastic show stopper live.
9: Either "We're Gonna Groove" or "Wearing and Tearing" from Coda
Although this album technically was a compilation of B-sides and unreleased material, I thought I'd pick a couple of tracks from it that would not only be surprising to see in the set list, but would be numbers that would be especially epic to hear. "We're Gonna Groove" is a great rock and roller from the early days of the band and they used to perform it as part of their set from the very early days along with other covers like "Something Else". Originally I wouldn't have expected anything from this one to be part of the set list but when Page mentioned that they were planning a number never before performed live, I thought it's got to be one of these. Now as I said, "We're Gonna Groove" was performed by the band a lot in their early days, but I don't think the hard rockin' proto punk of "Wearing and Tearing" ever was. Page mentioned it was a very intense sounding number they were working on, and this track would certainly qualify as just that as it's grindingly massive. How cool would that be if either of these appeared in the set?
When it comes to Led Zeppelin, really I don't think I could be disappointed in any set list they put together because I'm such a huge fan of their music that any songs are appreciated, especially at this time when it's been ages since they've performed live. These are just a few songs that I think would be cool to see live because they're some of my favorites outside of all the songs that are obvious choices. I could have listed another 10 more at least and I'm sure every fan has their own they're hoping for too.
Later on today we'll find out. All indications have been that the band is sounding amazingly tight and hot. The band was originally supposed to play a shorter set at this show, but rumors are that after rehearsing a little, they decided that they were really feeling the it and wanted to play a bit more, hence the full 2 hour+ set, so it should be pretty incredible. As I've said before, I'm not expecting the Zeppelin from the 70s resurrected, but all three remaining members are incredible musicians and seeing them take their songs to new places live on stage should be incredible. Congrats to everyone who ended up getting tickets to the gig and will be living out my dream later on today.
There is a planned DVD release for the tribute show, and I'm sure bootleg footage will be up on YouTube as early as tomorrow. If I can find it I'll share it and talk about it hear so check back in the next few days for more on the Led Zeppelin's reunion show.
Oh, and lets not forget that the rumor is that after the gig there will be an announcement of a full tour... lets hope for once that the rumors turn out to be true.